Chris may not have believed it, but I really hadn’t planned to teach him about the gospel that day. He was just a neighbor boy who used to hang around. He happened to be over at our house when the missionaries stopped by to use the phone.
“Who are they?” Chris asked as the two elders walked past us, their dark suits and white shirts a strong contrast to my friend’s T-shirt and tennis shoes.
“They are missionaries from our church,” I responded. One of them overheard us and grinned at me as if to ask permission to join the conversation. I nodded enthusiastically.
“We’re missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“Is that your church?” Chris asked me.
“Yes!” I said proudly.
“Would you like to know more about our church?” the elder asked.
“Well, I don’t know,” Chris said, looking down at his shoes. “Guess it won’t hurt anything,” he finally answered. “My grandpa always said it’s good to learn new things.”
The elders then began to talk about Jesus Christ and His love for us. They asked Chris to read a scripture from the New Testament, which he did with great sincerity. They established that he already had a basic testimony of the Atonement, helped him define Christ’s role in our lives, and then moved on to talk about the First Vision.
Again, they had Chris read scriptures. They bore their own testimonies, and then asked him how he felt about the message they had just shared. This time he was a little more unsure. The story of Joseph Smith was something altogether new to him.
“Well, I don’t know how I feel about that,” Chris said quietly. “It was a long time ago. You seem to know, but I don’t. It could have happened. I don’t know.” Then he paused for a moment, and his voice came through bold and bright. “But here’s something I do know. I know that what this world needs right now is a prophet. That’s what we really need. We need a prophet who’s alive on this earth today!”
By this time, a few of my family members had joined us in the living room, and as Chris spoke, we all looked at each other. An electrifying bolt of energy burst through us, but I was the first to speak. Okay, it was more like a shout of joy.
“We have one! We have one!” I grabbed his arm so quickly he was startled. “We do have a living prophet! His name is Gordon B. Hinckley, and he is the leader of our church.”
The elders began scrambling in their bags, searching for a picture. Chris smiled at my outburst and actually backed a few feet away in case I attacked him again. He gladly accepted a Book of Mormon and scheduled another appointment with the missionaries.
His family moved away very soon after, and I never heard whether Chris accepted the gospel. But I do know that everyone in the room that day felt the yearning of a young man wishing the world had a modern-day prophet.
I know Chris is just one of many people who feel the great need for a prophet’s caring guidance. How good it is to know the Lord hasn’t abandoned us in our need. He has blessed us with prophetic directions just as He has in generations past. I am glad I got to share that exciting message with my friend. And I am especially glad to know I can count on President Hinckley as a true prophet of God.